The year was 1998, the place was Biddy McGraw’s Irish Pub, and the band was Cul An Ti. Around 9 o’clock on any given Friday night, Cul An Ti would be tucked in the corner of Portland’s favorite Irish pub. Cut directly from The Emerald Isle, Biddy’s was the most authentic pub south of Vancouver B.C., and north of San Francisco. A tiny place that was ALWAYS packed, and always Smokey as hell. You walk in to the place and think you’ve just stepped in to a pub in Cork City, Between songs you could hear dozens of brogues from all parts of Ireland, Scotland, even Liverpool. Then there was that one Welsh wanker from Cardiff, (Forgot his name). Not bad for an “international” local watering hole in the Pacific Northwest! From the drunken arm wrestling, to the constant “Win Your Own Pub in Ireland Contest” beer coasters thrown in every direction, to the occasional brawl, Cul An Ti was always there. Just jamming away. A brilliant traditional band that by the end of the night would finally give in to the slurred requests heckled from the rowdy drunken crowd. “Dirty Old Town” was a favorite, along with “Wild Rover”… you get the idea, the songs that are played every night, at every Irish pub across the world.
The pub is no longer there at the same location, but the lads still play around town. Back in 1999, they went into the studio and recorded a large portion of material, from the reels, to the jigs, to the waltzes, to a few slow airs. Even a couple live tracks from Biddy’s pub made the album, and what a fine album it is! 15 tracks of top-quality traditional Celtic music is on the menu here, lads! (And yes, I’m quite sure that is me howling in the background in the middle of track 14!) A fine body of work that deserves to be mentioned in more publications. So, if you ever come across this CD, I recommend taking it home with you.
Review By Brian Gillespie